As the name may suggest, social media influencers ‘influence’ users’ purchase decisions through endorsement. They are also often referred to as ‘content creators.’ Small businesses can benefit from working with them to get their name out there, boost conversions, and make meaningful professional connections.

In this guide, the UK’s leading company formation agent, 1st Formations, takes small business owners through the key considerations when deciding to work with social media influencers.

Define your marketing goals

The first thing to think about is your intentions – what do you want to achieve from an influencer campaign? Perhaps you want to raise your brand profile, reach a wider audience, or improve your search engine ranking.

Social media influencers can help your small business achieve significant growth, but you need to know exactly what you’re aiming for so that you can choose the right influencer, guide your strategy, and appropriately measure its success.

Most businesses want to discover new target customers and build brand awareness when working with a social media influencer. Other common goals of this marketing strategy include:

  • Increase product consideration
  • Drive sales
  • Build long-term brand equity
  • Drive purchase intent
  • Communicate brand values
  • Build short-term brand mindshare
  • Build customer loyalty

Don’t forget to specify your budget when outlining these objectives. To help you get started, you might find the SMART method helpful. Here’s how it works:

Specific – Define a concrete goal. For example, boost brand awareness by promoting your product/service on Instagram.

Measurable – Explain how you’ll measure success. So, you might aim for a certain number of unique visits to your Instagram profile or website.

Achievable – What makes your goal realistic? It should be challenging but attainable within a certain time frame.

Relevant – Your goals should reflect your values and long-term objectives.

Time – Set a suitable start and end date for your campaign.

Before starting an influencer campaign, it’s essential to understand what you want to achieve from the campaign and ensure that this marketing tactic is best for helping you achieve those goals.

Understand your target audience

Before working with a social media influencer, you need to know who you’re trying to influence. Understanding your target audience is a must to ensure that you select a suitable influencer who will help you reach it and curate your campaign accordingly.

Your target audience could be your existing buyer. You should have a solid idea of who your average shopper is at this stage – their age group, household income, interests etc. Or you may want to expand your reach and target a completely new audience.

Once you’ve come to a decision, create a similar profile for your target influencer. Some of those key elements should match. For example, if your typical customer is aged between 25 and 30 years old, you may want to look for an influencer of a similar age as their content will be more relatable and relevant to that user.

Building a buyer and influencer profile will help you visualise exactly who you’re trying to reach with this campaign and the type of influencer that is best for the job.

Familiarise yourself with the legalities

Once you’ve agreed on a collaboration, there are certain rules and regulations that your business and the influencer will need to follow.

Paid promotions disclosure

Social media influencing is a form of advertising. You must be honest and upfront about your paid partnership with the influencer to ensure that customers are not confused or misled about your advert.

It is a legal requirement to notify your audience that the influencer content is sponsored, meaning they are receiving something in return for marketing your band – whether it’s a fee, complimentary products, or another form of payment.

This information should be displayed clearly and noticeably. Most influencers include the terms ‘paid partnership’, ‘#ad’, or ‘#sponsored’ within the content (e.g. in the post caption).

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

The CMA is responsible for competition and consumer protection. They protect the general public from false advertising by investigating businesses whose marketing tactics are considered unfair or anti-competitive.

For instance, If your influencer content fails to disclose the fact that it is a paid promotion, the CMA could take action against your business.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

The ASA is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising. The general rule is that ‘Marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.’

There is specific attention on social media advertising by the ASA. In their 2020 Influencer Ad Disclosure on Social Media report, the regulator revealed that nearly 65% of the social media influencers they monitored over a 3-week period failed to label their ads sufficiently.

When working with social media influencers, you need to be aware of the advertising codes and how to remain compliant.

If your social media influencer content features someone else’s work, it is likely to have a copyright. This can include music, images, or literary work.

For instance, if the influencer produces a TikTok video, they might include background music. Before you can publish that content, you’ll need to obtain the artist’s permission to use their work in your campaign.

Be sure to allow enough time in the planning stage of your influencer campaign to avoid legal action or launch delays.

Find a social media influencer

It’s time to do your research and find a suitable social media influencer to drive your marketing campaign. To start with, you should get to grips with these industry terms:

  • Nano-influencer: Up to 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencer: 10,000 – 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencer: 50,000 – 500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencer: 500,000 to 1 million followers
  • Mega-influencer: 1 million+ followers

For early-stage businesses and start-ups, it’s best to focus on nano and micro-influencers. Not only are they more budget-friendly, but they tend to have a more organic and engaged following than larger influencers. This can often help boost conversions and make your brand awareness efforts effective.

The average cost of a nano-influencer in the UK is around £100-£350 per post. For micro-influencers, you can expect to pay around £350-£1,000 per post.

You can then try a simple manual search on your chosen social media platform. Use niche and industry-specific hashtags to find relevant creators.

Alternatively, you can try a social media influencer platform like Upfluence. They offer a free plan that allows you to search and contact the right creators for your brand. You’ll also see all their profile analytics in one place rather than having to look them up on each separate platform.

Vetting social media influencers

Now that you’ve found a few suitable candidates, you should screen them before getting in touch. A vetting process will help you understand their engagement rates and if they are the right fit for your brand. You’ll also find out their follower authenticity, content quality, and target audience.

It’s also crucial to gauge their integrity. Remember to look for ‘#ad’, #sponsored’, or ‘paid partnership’ in the influencer’s posts to see their past collaborations and ensure that they comply with advertising regulations.

Another important detail to watch out for is that the influencer account is genuine. Here are the key indicators of fake profiles:

  • Level of engagement – If their posts have thousands of likes but no comments, or if they don’t respond to comments
  • Comments – If the comments are irrelevant to the post
  • Last post date – If they haven’t posted in a while or they post irregularly
  • Their personal bio – If this is missing or insufficient

Get in touch

If you’re happy with your research, go ahead and get in touch (either by direct message or email). Your message should be personalised, convey that you’ve done your research, and explain how you can work well together.

Be sure to ask for a press (or media) kit. This will highlight their follower statistics, prices, and the value they can bring to your small business.

You should arrange a meeting with the influencer and your key stakeholders to discuss and plan the campaign. For this, you should prepare a detailed campaign brief explaining your marketing goals.

Finally, you should contact a selection of influencers to keep your options open. If your top choice is already booked for your preferred dates or if either party decides that it’s not a suitable collaboration, you’ll have other influencers to consider.

Create an influencer contract

If both parties agree to work together, consider creating an influencer contract. The purpose of this document is to explain and manage your professional relationship and define the work the influencer will carry out for your company.

Here are the main sections that the contract should include:

  • Compensation: What your business will offer the influencer in exchange for their services. This can be a monetary value or a free product, for example.
  • Social media channel: Define the platform on which the influencer campaign will take place.
  • Deliverables: Explain the campaign’s objectives and what it is designed to achieve. Include a copy or link to the campaign brief.
  • Time schedule: Highlight the start and end dates of your collaboration. You should also include deadlines for content submission, approval timescales, and any penalties for missed deadlines.
  • Disclosure requirements: Specify the laws and regulations that the influencer content must abide by.
  • Usage rights: The circumstances under which the influencer content may be distributed (for example, appropriate accreditation is required, or they have to include your brand’s social media handle in the post), and how long it may be used for.
  • Exclusivity: Is the social media influencer permitted to work with any other brand whilst they are contracted with you?
  • Payment information: The specific steps to follow to settle payments.

To create your influencer contract correctly, we recommend seeking professional advice.

Thanks for reading

If you follow these key steps and do your homework, the right social media influencer could help take your small business to the next level. Once you’ve completed a campaign, you’ll build up a rapport with influencers, stand out against competitors, and enjoy future successes with social media influencers.

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